Absolute attention is prayer.
"Prayer should be short and pure, unless it is prolonged under the inspiration of divine grace (Rule of Benedict, Chapter 20).
"Prayer is the breath of the soul, the life-energy of the spirit. It is the story of the interplay between God and me. It is the link between the inner and the outer life. It has its own rhythm. It is its own reality. There is no formula for it beyond the need to nourish it with both words and silence. But the process is a clear one, nevertheless.
"Prayer is made up of two dimensions. In the first, we breathe in the tradition, the faith, the search for God that has nurtured the spiritual life in others down through the ages. In the second, we breathe out the consciousness, the presence, the magnetism of the God who resides in our own heart, uniquely and privately ours.
"Benedict of Nursia, in his classic sixth-century rule for monastics, after writing twelve chapters on the ordering of the psalms in seven distinct daily prayer periods for his communities, ends the work with what might easily be read as a shocking, even contradictory, pronouncement. He says clearly and succinctly, 'Prayer should be short and pure.' How do we explain the tension between the two positions?
"Once we understand the purpose and role of words in the spiritual life, the meaning is obvious. The prayer of words is simply meant to fill our minds and thoughts with an awareness of the nature of God and the attitudes of soul needed to immerse ourselves in the God-life.
"Then, once that is accomplished, as the philosopher Simone Weil states tersely, prayer becomes 'absolute attention.' We melt into the presence of God within. There the Great Silence of God becomes the central, major focus of our lives, the anchor of our hearts, the stabilizer that carries us through all the moments of life with all the emotional upheavals that implies on a straight and steady course directly to the heart of God.
"It captures all our attention. It becomes Liberator, Guide, and Center of our lives until the moment when, all of life's beauty and sorrow over, we melt into the life of God, complete in our growing, certain of our journey, drawn like a moth to a flame.
"All the words of faith have prepared us; all the attention to the Silence has burned away the dross. We are ready now. We are finally whole.
"MANTRA: Loving God, be in me so that I may be the sign of your presence to many.
"Rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks for everything."
1 Thessalonians 5:16